Healthy Baking

I love to bake.  I love real butter, real sugar, real chocolate, real cream…you get the point.  My sister is big on healthy cooking and baking.  I admire her!  She substitutes applesauce or mashed banana for the fat in recipes, uses whole grains, and sometimes will use egg whites or egg substitute in place of whole eggs.  

Here is some information about fat substitutes from

Low Fat Substitutes

  • Applesauce and plain yogurt are good fat substitutes in most recipes. For maximum texture and flavor, replace no more than half the amount of the fat listed in the recipe. If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter, you can substitute 1/4 cup applesauce, saving 44 grams of fat and 400 calories (the fat and calories in 1/4 cup margarine)
  • Mashed ripe bananas work well as fat substitutes in carrot or banana cake or muffins.
  • Purchased fruit puree mixtures, usually prune—based, also are good and work especially well in chocolate, spice and carrot cakes. Follow the label directions.
  • Replace 1 whole egg in a recipe with ¼ cup fat-free, cholesterol-free egg product substitutes (such as ConAgra’s Egg Beaters®) or 2 egg whites—you’ll save more than 10 grams of fat and 100 calories.

Another way to make a healthier baked good is to use whole wheat flour instead of, or in addition to, all purpose flour.  

  • All purpose flour is a blend of soft and hard wheat and it is what I typically use in all of my baking.  Sometimes I will use cake flour.
  • Whole Wheat flour is made from the whole kernel of wheat, the bran and the germ, so it is higher in fiber and other nutrients.  It does not contain as much gluten as all purpose flour, so it will not rise as much.  Most recipes will use a combination of wheat and white flour.
  • White Whole Wheat flour is milder in flavor than whole wheat but still contains more nutrients and fiber than all purpose flour.  It is made from white wheat instead of red wheat.

I have my doubts about these replacements.  There is a flavor and texture in baked goods that is changed (and not for the better) when a replacement is used.  Imagine using applesauce instead of butter in a shortbread!  Crazy talk!  However, I have decided to try some of these healthier options in my baking.    

Today I will use whole wheat flour in a cookie recipe.  This recipe also uses honey instead of sugar.  No SUGAR?  I know.  Did I mention that there isn’t any butter?  Have you passed out yet?  Fan yourself, take a few deep breaths.  We will get through this together.  There is an egg in this recipe.  So, all is not lost.

The recipe uses oil instead of butter.  I was a bit confused about this replacement.  I know butter isn’t exactly a health food, but neither is oil.  So, I searched a bit and discovered these differences between oil and butter in baking.

Nutrition Facts

Butter (1 ounce, 28 grams)

  • 201 calories
  • 23 grams fat (14 grams saturated)
  • 60 mg cholesterol
  • 81 % fat

Vegetable Oil (1 ounce, 28 grams)

  • 248 calories
  • 28 grams fat (4 grams saturated)
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 100 % fat

Baking Results


  • Provides flavor in baked goods
  • In cookies, causes some spread while baking
  • Creates a crisper texture

Vegetable Oil

  • Adds no extra flavor in baked goods
  • In cookies, will not spread while baking
  • Creates a denser, more cakelike, texture

Ok, so butter is a bit high in cholesterol since it is an animal product.  The oil has no cholesterol.  Oil does have more fat, but only 5 grams more.  The oil also has less saturated fat.  Well, oil it is then.  Wait…the baker and butter lover in me is screaming!  I love the flavor of butter in baked goods.  What is the solution?  Try both.

So, today will be a taste test of butter vs. oil in a whole wheat oatmeal raisin cookie.  I will fill you in after I slave away in the kitchen.

My butter vs. oil info came from these sites: